I am the minerals stuck to that pot. The pot is my body. There was once and is still intermittently water in that pot that keeps me going, but the residual minerals interfere with the pots ability to get that water to a boil. It takes longer. And each time stress brings it to a boil, and the bubbles fight for survival, it compounds the deposits of minerals that cling to the pot's interior screaming out, don't throw me away just yet. I will continue to work for you. I'm a little slower and a little crustier, but I can still be effective. Try me. Believe in me. Take a chance on me.
More and more I hear the word 'depressed' being whispered behind cupped hands below eyes darkened by concern. At first, I fought it. It's only my situation. Did you know that I was molested as a young child? Do you remember what I went through with my first husband? And what about the second husband who pulled the carpet out from under me. Two times being put out on the street with children by two men who swore to love me forever. It's all circumstantial and situational. I'm not really depressed. I'm just going through a rough patch. Trust me. Believe in me. Take a chance on me.
Again and again, my pot was left to boil away. Again and again, I tried to put on the the brave face and tell my silly stories and jokes to get the laughter that lowered the temperature under my pot. When I could no longer find the stamina to keep up the facade, I would find myself sobbing in odd places: the check-out line, in church, having lunch with friends, deep in the darkest part of night in my empty bed.
The crying jags elicited mixed responses. "Oh, she's just crying out for attention." or "Good grief, can't she do that at home?" or "I have no idea what to do for her." or "She makes her own choices, now she has to pay the consequences." Sometimes there would be a letter folded with a "Read this when you are alone" on the outside and inside a concerned plea and a lot of, "I know what you must be going through. He's a miserable wretch of a man. I wouldn't trust my children with him. Stay strong. You will get through this."
I still have the letters and on the nights when some man's words won't let me sleep, I read them to try to drown out the "You are worthless. You're going to be locked away in a nut house and never see your kids again. You are so unstable. You are far too ugly for anyone to love so you need to stick with me."
The crusty minerals make a lousy bed and I rarely sleep. They have formed clusters that decorate my life with advanced degenerative disc disease and advanced cataracts and painful knees and other assorted ailments I try to ignore and the "D-word".
In the old days I just bubbled through life. I knew that if I was cheerful, I could garner support from loved ones. So I sang for my supper. I performed like a jester to get the laughs I so desperately needed. When I lost my voice, I learned another tact. I could be brutally honest and lay it all out for people. This sifted out the chaff of acquaintances who only came for the entertainment and left me with a new kind of friend. Ones that wouldn't talk about what was wrong unless I needed to. Ones that loved me anyway. Ones who also suffered their own kind of pains and allowed me into their silent club.
The depression and anxiety were still there, but I didn't have to fake it. And so I would be "sick" a lot. I would make up some symptom or another that I had come down with, but I think everyone knew the truth. I was sad. A sad that I couldn't seem to function very well through. I kept up my obligations, but they left me depleted and exhausted. I was functionally dysfunctional. A tired old actress.
I have finally learned that I don't have to perform and I don't have to be a project. I can just be honest. I can say, "I'm sorry, but I'm just not having a good day." I can hole up in my little apartment and just be me: crying when I need to, dancing if I feel it, laughing like a lunatic without anyone's finger poised above the '911' on their cell phone. And on those days when I can't face anyone or even talk to them on the phone, I write. Thank God I can write. I can put it all out there on the paper and that way it isn't ricocheting around my poor old body bruising my insides.
I can finally say how thankful I am to be who I am. I am not the little girl who held on to an awful secret for decades. I am not the 12-year old so deep in the throes of a panic attic that I thought I was actually dying. I am not the promiscuous teenager turning to chemicals for relief. I am not the single mother feeding her children pancakes and walking to work because I don't have bus fare. I am not the mentally ill and battered wife of a military man. I am not the beard of a narcissistic pretentious user.
What I am is a daughter of God and he has endowed me with the power to rise above my circumstance. The pot may be crusty and less effective than it used to be, but the water still boils. Just a little more slowly. I am a divine vessel able to do His work and share His word and I am delighted that He has instilled in me this sacred talent that allows me to share my words with thousands of people every month. Try me. Believe in me. Take a chance on me.
If there is anyone who reads this and is living through it, at whatever stage, know that I would love to hear from you and be your friend with the most unconditional love. The kind of love and mercy I have been shown. Send me a message. I'll take a chance on you if you take one on me.